How to Detect A Leak On An Inflatable SUP
Inflatable stand up paddle boards (better known as iSUPs) are one of the most convenient and affordable ways to get out on the water. They are easy to transport from your home to the lake, beach, or river in the back of any vehicle because they can deflate and roll up to fit in the back of virtually any sized vehicle! Once you’re ready to get out on the water, it’s a breeze to inflate your iSUP to get out and enjoy a day paddling on the water. But what if your board isn’t inflating right?
One of the easiest ways to detect if there is a leak in your iSUP is to check the inflation valve. Over time, valves can come loose after being moved around during the inflation and deflation process. To test if your iSUP is leaking from the inflation valve, inflate your iSUP to the manufacture’s recommended PSI (usually that is between 10 and 15 PSI) and spray the valve with some soapy water. If bubbles are actively blowing from the valve, you’ll know that your iSUP is leaking from the valve! The simplest way to fix this issue is to use the repair wrench that comes with your board to tighten the valve. Get the valve nice and tight and then recheck your work by spraying the valve with soapy water again. Repeat these steps until you no longer see bubbles coming out of the valve area! If bubbles persist after you’ve tightened the valve as much as you can, you may need to take your board into a repair shop to replace and reseal the valve assembly.
Additionally, make sure to check the seams of your iSUP. The seams of the board can sometimes be defective, which could cause a major malfunction and leave the board unsafe to use. Start your check by laying your iSUP down on a clean, flat surface and then inflate it to so that it is between 10 and 15 PSI. After you’ve done that, spray the seams of your iSUP with soapy water to detect any bubbles. If you observe any bubbles coming from your iSUP, be sure to take it into a repair shop right away, as repairing seams properly can be tricky.
But what if you don’t see any bubbles coming from the valve or the seams? Where else can you check your iSUP for leaks? Never fear beginner iSUP fans, we’ve got you covered! In this post, we will discuss common areas to check for leaks on your iSUP as well as how to properly care for your iSUP to prevent leaks from forming in the first place. Let’s get started!
Common Places to Check for Leaks
After you have checked the valve, go through this systematic approach to look over your board for leaks.
Start at the tail end of the board. Look at areas that may have potentially gotten hung up on a branch or rock, such as where the fins go. This is a common area for iSUPs to leak, as the fins can get accidentally caught on obstacles in the water or on the shore. Use the same procedure as you did from the valve check by spraying soapy water around the fins to see if there are bubbles coming out.
Once you have checked the tail and fin assembly, move your way to the nose of the board along the bottom. The bottom of the board is much more likely to have a leak than the top, as the bottom of the board is more likely to encounter rocks, branches, and other underwater hazards. Look for areas on the bottom of your board where the material looks noticeably worn. If you do end up finding an area where the material is pretty worn, spray soapy water on the suspected leak area and check for bubbles.
After you have thoroughly checked the bottom of your board, look along the side rails for noticeable signs of wearing. The side rails are also more likely to bump into hazards on the water or on the shore compared to the deck of your iSUP, which makes it important to look over these spots before you check the deck of your board.
Finally, after you’ve checked over the valve, bottom, and sides of your board, look over the deck for any leaks. Methodically check from nose to tail by spraying soapy water in small sections to ensure that each square inch of your board has been checked for leaks.
If you do find that there is a leak on your iSUP, be sure to consult your manufacturer directions on how to properly repair a leak. For leaky valves, the easiest solution is often to use the valve wrench that came with your iSUP to tighten the valve.
Small leaks along the bottom, sides, or top of the board can easily be patched with the repair kit that came with your iSUP. In an emergency, you could potentially patch your iSUP with duct tape.
But be sure to properly patch your iSUP once you’re out of that emergency!
Preventative Care for Your Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board
The best way to take care of leaks on your iSUP is to prevent them from forming in the first place. Follow these tips to make sure that your iSUP is leak free for many seasons to come!
- Store your iSUP loosely rolled up and in a cool shaded area
When you’re using your iSUP for the season, it’s ok to roll it up tightly to get it to and from the water in your vehicle. However, when it’s at home, be sure to unroll it and then loosely roll it again so that there isn’t any unnecessary pressure placed on the inflation valve.
- Carry, don’t drag your iSUP to the water
The quickest way to cause small leaks on the bottom and sides of your iSUP is to drag it to the water. If the iSUP is too big for you to handle on your own, get some help to carry it from the shore to the water!
- Only inflate to the manufacturer’s rating for your iSUP
Don’t over inflate your iSUP. Pay close attention to the pressure gauge on your pump and immediately stop inflating once you’ve reached the maximum PSI rating. Going over that rating puts unnecessary strain on the inflation valve and the seams of your iSUP.
- For long term storage, treat it with 303 protectant
Once the temperatures begin to cool and it’s no longer paddling weather, be sure to properly protect your iSUP for long term storage by first cleaning it with a mild soap and then thoroughly covering it with 303 protectant. 303 helps to condition you iSUP after a season of being exposed to heat and UV rays from the sun. It’ll ensure that your iSUP is fresh and ready to use for seasons to come!
Detecting leaks on your iSUP is a very easy and important part of being an iSUP owner. Be sure to always check your iSUP for leaks before hitting the water, as a deflating iSUP is difficult to maneuver while paddling and can absolutely ruin your day!
But with early detection and proper preventative maintenance, you can rest assured that your iSUP will be water worthy for years and years of fun!
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